Graduates of the Interval House Crisis Shelters for victims of domestic violence joined 400 guests for Le Bal des Papillons (the Ball of the Butterflies) at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point on Saturday.
Marking its 17th year, the $200-per-person black-tie gala was expected to net about $150,000 for Interval House, a Seal Beach-based agency that has three shelters in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Among the graduates celebrating their transformation from abused wives and girlfriends to independent women was Janine Limas.
"People have stereotypes of what battered women look like. I love blowing their minds," said Limas, dressed in a powder-blue ball gown.
Limas told guests how she found help at Interval House five years ago:
After an abusive episode, she would go to her parents' home for help. "Finally my parents said, 'The next time this happens, you can't come home.' That saved my life."
Limas spent 29 days at an Interval House emergency shelter, then moved to one of the agency's second-stage transitional shelters before finding an apartment for herself and her children. She now works as the agency's community education director.
Julie Alban, left paralyzed after being shot in a domestic violence incident, was lifted onstage in a wheelchair to share her story. Alban talked about the years she spent in denial. She is now a prosecuting attorney for domestic violence cases.
Guests were entertained by singer Mary Wilson of the Supremes and danced to the music of Danny House and His Orchestra. Celebrities, including "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" veteran Jo Anne Worley, conducted a live auction.
"We're here to encourage people and possibly shame them into bidding," Worley joked. "This is a chance to see good friends, and it's for a very worthy cause."
Proceeds will go to Interval House's residential programs and services for victims of domestic violence.
"This is an issue that only recently has come to the attention of the public," said Dr. Joyce Kakkis, event chairwoman. "For a long time, it was a hidden problem."
The agency's hotline is (714) 891-8121.
Among the guests were Carol Anne Williams, executive director of Interval House; co-founder Isa Smashey Rogers; board president Robert Armstrong; honorary chairman Bruce Bodaken; program director Bill Williams; Beverly Garland; Christine Devine; Mark Thompson; Florence Olsen; Larry Webb and Janet Hadley; Jack and Nancy McNaughton; Dr. Norman Vinn; Lee and Marilyn Skarin; Harlene Goodrich; John Coleman; Michael Bader; Elizabeth Lambert; and William Stearns.